Creating a Life Together

by: EJ on 09/29/2016

Thanks to wonders of public library systems, hand operated ferry ramps and laptop computers we pleased to be able to post Diana Leafe Christian's guest blog about her wonderful book,  Creating a Life Together: Practical Tools to Grow Ecovillage and Intentional Communities .  Whenever I meet someone planning on joining or building a community, I tell them they must read Diana's books first.  Read on to find out why. 

I first met New Society Publishers' publishers Chris and Judith Plant in 2003 at an environmental fair at the Solar Living Institute in Northern California just after Creating a Life Together was published.

Writing the book was the hardest thing I’d ever done. I already knew a lot about intentional communities, but knew little about legal entities, purchasing and financing land, or zoning regulations. I had to first research these topics, make sure what I wrote was accurate, and then make it interesting! Even worse, the book was two years overdue and 50,000 words over the word limit. I finally found the courage to tell Chris how long the manuscript had become. “Then you’ll need to hire a competent editor,” he said. Gulp. A year later I nervously submitted the whole manuscript, asking Chris if he would please suggest likely places to cut. To my great relief, he liked it and said New Society would publish all of it. I was thrilled!

He and Judith were wonderfully gracious when I met them at the environmental fair. “I think this book will be a slow, steady seller,” Chris said. And it has been.

The book has apparently made a difference to many community founders. It introduces what I called “structural conflict,” the kind of conflict which arises when community founders don’t establish crucially needed community processes early — a shared vision and mission, a clear and thorough membership process, clear agreements in writing, and so on. The lack of these structures can cause 90 percent of newly forming communities so much conflict they break up. This concept is now widely known in the communities movement. Community founders all over North America have told me how reading  Creating a Life Together saved them from making awful mistakes. “It’s our bible,” many told me.

It’s changed my life too. Soon I was asked to do many more workshops than before on starting successful new communities. In 2006 it was published in French as Vivre autrement), then in Italian (Creare un Vita Insieme, 2010), Spanish (Crear una vida juntos, 2012), Russian (2014), and Korean (2015). (It’s in German too, but with no publisher yet.) Now I offer workshops and consultations and speak at conferences internationally on starting successful new communities, how existing communities can become more healthy and thriving, and effective self-governance. For example, I was a keynote speaker at the Japanese Ecovillage Conference in 2007, for example, and in 2013 was keynote speaker at the annual conferences of the Swedish Ecovillage Network and the UK Cohousing Network. I’ve done workshops at conferences of the Cohousing Association of the U.S. too.

I’ve also learned a lot more about the process of starting successful new communities since writing the book. These include “The Three Aspects of a Healthy, Thriving Community,” for example (effective project management, creating “community glue,” good communication skills), and “The 19 Steps: How Community Founders Typically Start Successful Ecovillages and Intentional Communities” (more explicit steps of community-founding). I no longer recommend classic consensus as a decision-making method, but instead suggest a form of modified consensus, the N St. Method, or Sociocracy, which includes both a governance structure and decision-making process. If you’d like any of these handouts, just contact me through my website,, and I’ll send them to you. I want every intentional community to succeed and thrive!  


Tomorrow is the last day of our Fall Book Sale.  Please visit our blog to receive a free chapter download from Creating a Life Together. 

 Enter the Coupon Code: Fall16 at the Checkout to receive your 35% discount! 
Offer ends September 30th.


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